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Trio Tries to Captivate Audiences

June 24th, 2005

Three new films aim to break the box office out of its 17-week slump this weekend. It's been more than four months since the box office gained any ground on 2004, and the chances of breaking the slump this weekend are not that bad. This time last year wasn't a particularly strong weekend, but none of this year's three opening films are all that strong either. In fact, it is unlikely that Batman Begins will be dethroned over the next three days.

There probably won't be a change at the top spot with Batman Begins holding up well enough to repeat as box office champ. Given the Fanboy Effect, a 50% drop-off is expected, but the word-out-mouth should prevent that having a huge impact, leaving the film with $26 million for the weekend and making it the eighth film of 2005 to reach $100 million domestically.

Coming in second should be Bewitched, the $80 million romantic comedy starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell. Reviews have been disappointing, to put it mildly, with various complaints: it's too confusing, it's not funny enough, the two leads have no chemistry, etc. There should be enough drawing power to ensure a reasonable $20 million opening, but not enough positive word of mouth to have much legs at the box office.

Last weekend Mr. and Mrs. Smith fell just shy of 50% at the box office. This weekend it should improve its fortunes, slightly, and finish with just over $14 million. This isn't a bad result and the film is well on its way to profitability. However, it's not reaching its full potential either.

There should be a bit of a battle for fourth place between the next two new releases, but their opening weekend box office is almost the only thing they have in common.

As the title may suggest, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead is George A. Romero's return to the zombie genre he revolutionized nearly 40 years ago. There are two factors that will decide whether this movie is success or not, and they are both related to the massive fanbase the "Dead" franchise has. Firstly, there's a huge amount of fans eager to see this movie, however, their expectations are so high they are almost guaranteed to be disappointed. That is not to say the film is bad -- it is easily the best wide release of the week -- but it's also easily the weakest in the franchise. Still, it has a solid shot at fourth place with $12 million over the weekend, and it has an outside chance at matching its $15 million production budget.

Herbie: Fully Loaded already opened in Wednesday, but wasn't able to meet expectations. There are three reasons why this could have happened. Firstly, people were unaware that the film opened on Wednesday. Secondly, families were unwilling to see the movie on Wednesday because it was a school night. And lastly, it's simply not a good movie. The reviews, which have slipped below the 50% positive mark, suggest the last part is at least partially to blame. Which means I'm reducing my prediction to $12 million over the weekend. Not a good start for a film with a $50 million production budget.

Lastly we have Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, which is destined to fall out of the top five for the first time in its run. However, it is the biggest hit of the year and still worth tracking. This weekend the film should add $6 million to its domestic box office, pushing it past Jurassic Park and into the top ten on the All Time Charts.

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Filed under: Star Wars Ep. III: Revenge of the Sith, Batman Begins, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Bewitched, George A. Romero's Land of the Dead